Bird flu case in Holland turns out to be highly contagious H5N8 strain | News | DW | 16.11.2014
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Bird flu case in Holland turns out to be highly contagious H5N8 strain

Dutch authorities have determined that the bird flu detected at a poultry farm in the central Netherlands is the highly contagious H5N8 strain. Until recently, H5N8 had never been detected in Europe.

Dutch officials announced a series of measures designed to contain the outbreak of bird flu early on Sunday, even before it was clear which strain of the virus they were dealing with.

The government imposed a 72-hour ban on the transport of all poultry products including eggs, manure and used straw to and from all farms across the country which borders Germany and Belgium.

The transport ban for a 10-kilometer (six mile) radius surrounding the affected farm is to last for the next 30 days.

Agriculture inspectors then began the job of slaughtering all 150,000 chickens at the farm in central Dutch village of Hekendorp.

Danger to humans played down

Despite these precautionary measures, government officials played down risks to human health.

"It's a highly pathogenic strain for birds," Jan van Diepen a spokesman for the Netherlands' Ministry for Economic Affairs said.

"For people it's not that dangerous: you'd only get it if you were in very close contact with the birds."

Another ministry spokesman said the farm sold eggs rather than poultry.

The farm's owner, Piet Wiltenburg told the Reuters news agency that most of his produce was sold in the Netherlands, although some was exported to Germany.

"There is absolutely nothing wrong with that produce," he said.

Second recent find in Europe

This is just the second time that the H5N8 strain of bird flu has been detected in Europe, after more than 30,000 turkeys had to be destroyed after it was found at a turkey farm in the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania earlier this month.

Previously, it had mainly been found in South Korea, where its discovery led to four separate slaughters in which thousands of birds were culled.

According to Reuters, around 10,000 chickens were put down in March after a less contagious strain of bird flu was detected at a farm in the east of the Netherlands.

pfd/ipj (Reuters, dpa)

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